by Janelle Engle
Warm weather and the promise of free Sailor Jerry’s rum for an hour lured in a solid crowd at the Underground Arts venue for a Thursday night. But if everyone came for the free booze, it was the solid music line up of Heavenly Beat, Vacationer and Hellogoodbye that made them stay, and the fact that each band provided their own feel good summer tunes that matched the warm weather and buzzed vibe of the crowd that evening.
Heavenly Beat started off the night, who likely got their name due to their dreamy new wave sound. The band is the side project of Beach Fossils’ bassist John Pena. Pena has a notoriously gentle voice and it kept the crowd in a relaxed dreamy state for most of their set. They snapped to attention when Heavenly Beat started playing their cover song, and Pena brought out a harmonica for an exciting addition to their sound. While they were the most laid back band of the evening, they were a good way to start off the night.
In slight contrast to Heavenly Beat’s relaxed vibe, Vacationer came on stage bursting with energy. As the hometown band on the bill that night, they were a crowd favorite. Vacationer is a band that encompasses what summertime music is all about – a feel good attitude along with happy go lucky lyrics about falling in love and living in the moment. Vacationer sent the warmed up crowd from swaying to full on dancing by the end of their set. They played songs from their debut 2012 LP, as well as some new material from Relief, which will be released June 24. These new songs were well received from the audience judging by all the constant dancing.
At one point, lead singer and bassist Kenny Vasoli, also from The Starting Line, another Philadelphia hometown band, even said, “I hope summer sounds like this,” before going into their next song. If that was their goal, I’d say that they achieved it. Vasoli himself said he’s been “noticeably happier since this band. “ And judging by all the goofy grins around me, it’s safe to say lots of people in the audience felt the same.
The crowd did not get a break from all the dancing as Hellogoodbye hit the stage shortly after. They finished off the night with a triumphant mix of old and new songs, including favorites from 2010’s Would It Kill You?, as well as their newest album, Everything is Debatable. Lead singer Forrest Kline was his usual charismatic self, even leaving the stage to join the audience for a mini dance party and taking goofy selfies with members of the first row – all mid song, of course.
After Hellogoodbye had exited the stage on a nostalgic 2006 favorite, “Here in Your Arms”, the audience was left with the same buzzed happy feeling they came in with and exited the venue still dancing. From beginning to end, it was the perfect show to kick off the summer.